Shark Week is a week-long series of shows on the Discovery Channel devoted to scary sharks. The show got its start in the early 2000s and in 2012, Shark Week became the most watched and most talked-about week of programming on the network. With the exception of the Discovery Channel’s annual special, Shark Week is a staple of the summer television lineup.

As a great teacher, Julia Child was adept at her ability to bring people together. She made cooking seem so simple – a skill that could allow you to cook with any ingredients, regardless of their origin. But, in reality, cooking required a vast knowledge of ingredients and food preparation, which Julia was more than happy to share with her students.

The public is currently captivated by Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. The week long event celebrates the marine life of the world’s oceans and provides a unique look into their lives. What you may not know is that Julia Child’s recipe for shark repellent was a part of her World War II-era recipe book instructing women on how to repel shark attacks.

Let us not forget Julia Child and her somewhat unique relationship with sharks during World War II as citizens across the United States, nay the world, mentally prepare for the cultural phenomenon that is Shark Week.

Child was assigned to an experimental research project called the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section as a member of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA, writes Jennet Conant, author of A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS. “She was working on a shark repellant that could be applied to pilots who had been in the water.”

It’s Shark Week! Learn How to Repel these Fearsome Fish Courtesy of Julia Child’s WWII ‘Recipe’ (National Archives and Records Administration of the United States of America)

According to the CIA, at least 20 accounts of US Navy officers being attacked by sharks had reached the public by 1943, alarming sailors and airmen who were increasingly finding themselves performing perilous missions over shark-infested waterways.

Child is accompanied by Harold Jefferson Coolidge Jr., a Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology expert.

The couple settled on copper acetate as the most efficient shark repellant after a year of field testing and trying over 100 different substances, including but not limited to extracts from rotting shark meat.

According to multiple 1943 documents, the substance was blended with black dye and molded into little cake-like disks that were at least “60 percent effective in repelling shark bites.”

It’s Shark Week! Learn How to Repel these Fearsome Fish Courtesy of Julia Child’s WWII ‘Recipe’

When discharged into the water, the concoction was supposed to keep sharks at bay for six to seven hours and could be slathered on a life jacket, belt, or even the body, giving off the aroma of a dead shark.

The Navy, understandably, remained dubious. “…none of us expected that the chemical would truly function when the animals were stirred up in a mob behavior pattern,” Coolidge admitted in May 1943.

Nonetheless, the possibility of a possible deterrent increased morale among airmen and sailors, and many orders for the repellent were placed.

Child later quipped that the combination was her “first recipe” in the kitchen, and the CIA eventually published the formerly top-secret “recipe” to the masses in 2015, providing us all a little more protection as Shark Week approaches.


Julia Child and the OSS Shark Repellent Recipe: #OSS #WWII #OSS #WWII

— The Central Intelligence Agency (@CIA) on July 9, 2015

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